If you fail a white check you suffer damage (mental or physical), but nothing happens in the world, no negative consequences – just the lack of positive ones. You don’t “get” that wacky music, your partner tells you to stop trying to get him fired. The proverbial door in the dungeon remains closed, the treasure out of reach. The white check becomes greyed out. You can try again later once you’re better at it (put more points into the skill), or you can make the task easier by changing the environment.
But if you do succeed you get access to a special nook in the content: a bunch of clever things to say that build your character, or inadvertedly solving a problem somewhere else. You may even find an entirely new side-case to take on, or new project for your Thought Cabinet to process. And yes, even a bigger gun, we’re not above those. White checks are locked gates for content and rewards. (Which we think of as one and the same). Even finding the gates counts as progress. Part of the game is mapping out these “closed doors” and then returning later once you think you need what is behind them – or if you’re just curious.
Our Art Director compares white checks to using dynamite to mine more content out of the game. It’s relatively safe if you plan your rolls carefully.